2 years of sobriety- My journey in finding self-acceptance and inner peace

Discussion in 'Ages 25-29' started by Freedom from Servitude, Mar 7, 2014.

  1. yearofchange

    yearofchange Your actions matter.

    I too have deviated from being well entrenched in the teachings, but that has been good for me. I discovered teachings that seemed a great idea at the time, but I've come to realize it's not doable to overcome one's delusions about the self on your own. For example, I spent energy into vanquishing desire because of an excerpt on the Pali Canon that I read, and another time I spent time on dissolving the self thinking if I starve the ego's wants then I will be free or something. Basically I got too theoretical. Being part of a sangha is vastly different than being on your own, trying to figure it all out. A monk I listened to used to say that being a monk isn't just about going off somewhere to study the scripts and meditate, the more important aspect of it is the sangha.

    Anyway, I'm doing more tidbits of mindfulness here and there throughout my day, especially when it comes to internet use. I found I start the day unfocused and at times (lying in bed, after shower) I just find myself having scrolled for 30-60 minutes of browsing. It's always a notification or something to check on the phone, and bam, before I know it I'm so sucked up I only realize I was sucked up after I get out. I think mindfulness in this area would be a huge asset.

    I like your mindset, it's important to not only see what you are not doing and how you could improve (negative reinforcement) but also focus in equal parts or even more on what you are doing that is positive and helpful and what a ways you've come. I tend not to focus on that without deliberate effort.
     
  2. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Yes, I think it is easy to become too absorbed in a particular belief system and see it as the only path to recovery.

    How you start the day certainly has a knock on impact on the decisions you make for the rest of the day. If you decide to exercise your willpower first thing in the morning, it is easier to keep positive momentum going. I think smartphones are a dangerous distraction. I had to uninstall the Facebook messenger app on my phone because I found that I could not keep away from it whenever an alert pinged. It simply annoyed me knowing that there was an unread message waiting for me. Software is deliberately designed to be addictive to hold your attention so that companies can make more money from you. Its ethically highly questionable. A friend of mine told me that apparently Steve jobs declared that he would not even let his kids have an I-pad because of how addictive they can be.
     
  3. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    29/10/2018

    It has been a good week, full of activities that have involved me going beyond my comfort zone. At work, I took up some busy front of house shifts, and pushed through my fears to make a success of interacting with my customers and colleagues, despite my existing social phobia. I also met with a friend from high school who I don't see very often, twice. Despite my concerns, I also attended a stag do of another individual from the old friendship group. I had my doubts about going at first simply because we had a misunderstanding over a year ago and have barely chatted since- and that was not of my making. As I repeatedly made the effort to stay in contact after the incident, I concluded that he did not want much to do with me anymore. Then out of the blue, his best man invites me to his stag do just over a week ago on the recommendation of the bride to be. I'm glad that I went, even though it felt a bit awkward- after all, I haven't been invited to the wedding. Even though, it would have been perfectly reasonable not to go, I feel as though I have done my bit for the sake of an old friend. As it happens there weren't many of us there and I felt my presence made the difference. I made the effort to socialise with the guys there I hadn't met before, and I was proud of myself that I did.

    I am in two minds as to whether I should try online dating. I have heard a lot to be concerned about, but yet there have been known to be success stories. The problem is every time I read a bad thing about dating sites, I use them as an excuse for inaction. All things considered, I can't get away from the fact that I might have a chance of finding a partner online. I have got nothing to lose in trying. I have just got to be savy and keep my wits about me.

    I am going to post on here less often from now on. I am finding this forum to be a distraction. It is counterproductive in my attempts to limit screen time and combat my procrastination habits. Besides, on a day to day basis, I don't feel as though I have much to report.
     
  4. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    04/11/2018

    It has been a very good week. I have submitted a few new job applications, taking on board fresh advice from a friend of mine who works in helping to get people into work.I have seized the initiative and have gotten in contact with a few prospective employers about any opportunities that they might have in the immediate future. It still feels uncomfortable , but the important thing is that i am doing it. My younger self would have felt tempted to avoid the situation.

    I did another improvised speech at the TM club even though I felt really uncomfortable about doing so, and was pleasantly surprised of how well it turned out. I was invited to come along to a contest lately. A group of us travelled in the same car there and back and went for a drink afterwards. It was a great opportunity as you don't always get an opportunity to chat much at the club sessions. I felt a connection and bond between all of us.

    I am seriously considering giving online dating a go. I've just got to take the first big step in creating a profile. Some of the guys I know have spoken about Tinder, but they also said that they have been messed about a lot by disinterested women. I am thinking of paying for a short trial on an online dating site to find someone more committed to a relationship.

    I've successfully kept my procrastination habits on the computer in check this week. I am experimenting with two techniques. One is writing an anxiety journal in the style of Tim JP Collins' podcast, and the other is visualising my goals, as suggested by Napoleon Hill in 'Think and Grow Rich.' I do both once in the morning and once in the evening. In my journal, I ask myself the question in the morning, 'what would I do if I am fearless today?' In my responses, i set myself three goals that I could achieve if I wanted to. One pleasant result of holding myself accountable in this way is that I generate a greater self esteem when I meet each of these goals. Having it down in writing also makes me more likely to go through with the action.

    As I come to the end of reading Nathaniel Branden's 'The Sixth Pillars of Self-Esteem', I feel that low self-esteem describes the state of my mental health accurately. It might not be the complete picture, but from what I have seen lately, if I do constructive things in my life, I know I feel better for it. I'm actively seeking opportunities to boost my self-esteem different aspects of my life, including work, TM, SA and the relationships I have with others. I have ordered some new books to better understand why low self-esteem develops and what I can do to raise it.
     
  5. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    13/11/2018

    I've had a full on week. My hours for both of my jobs can fluctuate outside the season and this week has been one of those busy times. I felt quite drained at the weekend and I found myself in a potentially dangerous situation where I started watching a triggering drama on sex trafficking. I knew from the guidance warning that there were no sex scenes. Nevertheless, despite having a genuine interest in this true life story, I knew that my motives were mixed for watching it. I watched for about 20 mins and then decided with my better judgement to close the internet window. I only saw scenes of women in their underwear and even then I looked away so didn't see much at all. Nevertheless because the addiction had a brief spell over me, I experienced quite strong cravings to act out during the evening when my mind was bombarded with porn flashbacks. These continued into the following day. When I encountered a triggering thumbnail of a woman dressed provocatively when checking a Yahoo e-mail account, that triggered a wave of dopamine to rush over me like the old days. It was tough to ride that one out, but I did, and thankfully, I am still sober. That could easily have been a relapse moment.

    I had a low level of social anxiety when mixing with my colleagues, but I have found a useful trick to help with that. By writing down my fears , and stating what I can do about them, I get less caught up with my thoughts. If there is something that I can do nothing about like the fear of being rejected, I just cross it out on the list. That seems to send a message to my brain that I can surrender it.

    I have managed to get in a speech last minute this Thursday. I am still putting it together, so I have felt the pressure to get it done on time. Factor in that and the fact that I have been organising things for service positions at my SA group, and I have had a much busier week than normal. It is all a good growth experience.

    I have started reading 'Fearvana, the revolutionary science of how to turn fear into health, wealth and happiness'. It is a book written by an ex US marine who struggled with PTSD and addiction. It takes a different approach to other books I have read on mental health, in that it seeks to teach how to exist with anxiety and depression and channel it instead of trying to conquer it. Its a great read so far.

    I have also started to create an online dating profile. A friend of mine is going to help me this week take some good profile photos, and the aim will be to get the whole profile finished by the end of this week.
     
    yearofchange likes this.
  6. yearofchange

    yearofchange Your actions matter.

    I'm glad you had the awareness to not get caught into the web of dopamine. And that book sounds really interesting. Wish you the awareness to keep doing what you're doing.
     
  7. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    21/11/2018

    It has been a stressful week. I didn't expect it to be so stressful, only that it contained a few activities that required me to exert a little more effort than usual. The stress response seemed exaggerated for what I have faced, and this left me feeling quite depleted of energy. Then again, I have enough experience with anxiety to know that you can't predict how it will affect you. I had my employee review at work, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time as the advice given was generic about the changes expected for next year given to all employees and so wasn't an appraisal of my performance. They could have told us everything we needed to know in a group gathering. I was quite worried before hand as I have had a few misunderstandings with my supervisors this year, and by no means as a result of any fault of my own. Contrary to my anxious predictions, I was told that they were happy with my work. On that day, I successfully organised a guest speaker for our SA meeting, but the responsibility put more pressure on me while my attention was focused on other things. The meeting was a big success overall, and we left the room feeling inspired from the share of a veteran with long term sobriety.

    Also, last week I gave my speech Thursday evening at the TM club, which I was still modifying until a few days before hand. Despite my concerns that it was too technical, it went down very well and I was told by some people that it was the best speech I have given to the club so far.By that point, I was too tired and anxious to be able to fully enjoy it at the time. My attention was focused on an evening shift I had volunteered myself for Friday. Potentially it involved being on TV and interacting with the public a lot in costume. My initial reaction when I found out about the opportunity was one of dread, which is why I thought it would be a good challenge to throw my hat into the ring. The nagging voice in my head that told me that I was inadequate and I would make a fool of myself in front of other people was very persistent, particularly because I was feeling run down and tired. Regardless, I weathered the storm and attended the shift. There was nothing to worry about in truth. In fact, apart from the opportunity to dress up, it was quite unremarkable and boring. As I write this post from a much calmer place, I am proud of myself for pushing through those challenges. I feel more confident for it. When something is good for you, you don't always feel that it is until much later. You have to learn to delay gratification, which as recovering addicts, seems somewhat alien.

    I am still enjoying reading 'Fearvana' and can relate to its message about learning to channel anxious energy into our efforts. In relation to my journey, I am still learning to live with uncomfortable emotions and not seek to escape from them. Old habits die hard, and two and a half years of recovery in contrast to ten years of addiction is a drop in the ocean, when all things are considered in learning new ways of thinking. Nevertheless, I have come on leaps and bounds, and I am learning to accept my emotions more and more everyday.

    I have been feeling really horny this week. I have grappled with porn flashbacks at night while trying to sleep. I have also noticed a lot of semen leakage when I go to the toilet. This seems like the usual PAWS. I remember reading on a website that PAWS seem to affect recovering addicts often in monthly patterns. I reached two years 5 months of no porn and masturbation on Monday, so it seems about right on schedule, if this idea has any credence.
     
    Gilgamesh and yearofchange like this.
  8. yearofchange

    yearofchange Your actions matter.

    Congrats on your great speech! You are moving past what your mind splatters out which is a great sign. My mind also tells me I'm worthless and inadequate at times, constantly seeking and validating its hateful comments with the smallest bit of proof it finds. Often, if I take a step back from the thought and write it down as you do and really reflect on the validity of its accusation I find it's just a load of un-grounded accusations with no real logic or substance. Keep up the great work and congratulations on the long road you've come to be where and who you are today.
     
  9. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    Thanks for your ongoing support, yearofchange. It really matters to me. I have found it helpful to get my thoughts out on paper, as I find that I get less caught up with them and it is easier to get a better sense of perspective. Writing out the fairer representation of the truth of my self-worth also involves three way repetition so that the message hits home with more impact.

    I feel that I am in a relatively good place at the moment where my quality of life is improving. My life isn't perfect but I am learning to accept my situation day by day as good enough. The support of guys like you and others in this community has played its part in helping me along my journey in recovery, so thank you.
     
    yearofchange likes this.
  10. Freedom from Servitude

    Freedom from Servitude Active Member

    17/12/2018

    It has been a few weeks since my last post and a lot has happened. When I last posted, I was spending a week with a friend in Wales. I had a good time, walking, exploring and chatting. On the final day before going home, we had a very candid conversation about my history with anxiety, depression and addiction. I am used to sharing honestly with the SA fellowship, but when it came to talking about these issues with a friend beyond the normal recovery context, I thought to myself that I sounded mad. I realise that this is superficial judgement. Everybody has their own battles and difficulties and I am no different from the next person. I am my own norm.

    It has been an intensive week. I went away to work a busy event on another site. On top of this and the usual social and work commitments, a job interview came up last minute. I worked really had trying to put in the adequate preparation for the interview in the small amount of spare time that I had. The interview last week went well enough and I am due to hear back regarding the outcome. All of the pressure took its toll, and I felt very stressed, tired and run down. To add to that to that, I got ill with a bug that seems to go be everywhere at the moment. With this hotpot of discomfort came burning cravings to act out. It was an immense struggle at times to stop myself from ogling at women in the streets, masturbating and indulging in sex fantasy. Always though, I can ride through it by reaching the phone and chatting to my SA fellows. Having a candid conversation with someone renews my sense of accountability and strengthens the voice of reason in my head. it grounds me in reality.

    On the plus side of having that bug, I have spent several days taking it easy and I have been able to get the rest that I have needed. I am on the upward mend now, and was able to come into work Saturday. There. I performed admirably in an unusual crisis situation, which I am really proud of myself.

    I don't think that it is possible to reach a cured state with this addiction. I feel that the 12 step programmes have it right in stating that sobriety is a state that has to constantly be maintained. Taking part in service positions to help others and staying connected is all part of that process. I think that one of the reasons that I have been having a lot of cravings to act out is due to the natural impulse we all have to reproduce. The problem is that I haven't actually re-wired yet, so I suspect that my brain still mistakes pixels for real life women. It is therefore currently default for me to crave a sexual release through porn and masturbation.

    From the perspective of re-wiring, I have started to take real steps to given online dating a go. I have created a profile, uploaded some images and have written a personal ad. These have been really big steps for me to take and I had to overcome a considerable degree of mental resistance. I am not sure how many active users there are in my area. I haven't had any real interest yet. In the coming weeks, I want to learn how to use this properly and start interacting with people, now that I have a bit more time on my hands.
     
    yearofchange likes this.

Share This Page